In 2018, more than 1,8000 work zone traffic accidents claimed 23 lives in Pennsylvania. Since 1970, PennDOT has had 89 workers killed by workers and the turnpike has seen 45 workers die since 1945. The most frustrating aspect of these deadly accidents is the fact that none of them should happen. Now, the state's traffic officials are taking a stand against drivers who disregard work zone speed limits. Starting in early March, motorists passing through work zones on Pennsylvania highways and the turnpike can receive speeding fines in the absence of law enforcement.
About the New Traffic Safety Program
The Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement program was authorized by Act 86 in 2018. It uses vehicle-mounted electronic speed timing devices to automatically determine when drivers pass while exceeding a posted work zone speed limit. The system will automatically send drivers exceeding the speed limit by 11 miles per hour or more by capturing an image of the front and rear of their speeding vehicles.
The first offense a person receives will not come with a fine. Instead, they'll receive a warning letter. If a person has a second offense, they'll receive a $75 fine, and a $150 fine will be given to third-time offenders. Additionally, every alleged instance of speeding must first be reviewed by state police before an infraction is provided to a motorist. The person registered to a speeding vehicle will be responsible for paying the fine, even if someone else was driving at the time of the infraction.
"The goal is to build awareness and most importantly, to change unsafe driving behaviors," Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said to NBC Philadelphia. "The program serves as a roadway reminder that safety is literally in each driver's hands when they are behind the wheel."
According to the Times Leader, the new program comes at a critical time for road workers. Currently, an increase in focus on maintaining and improving Pennsylvania roads and bridges means that drivers are encountering work zones with frequency. Motorists must slow down when driving through work zones because of narrow or shifting lanes and travel conditions that will frequently change on the same road during work.
Drivers will have plenty of warning when approaching the zones monitored by one of the 17 new speed cameras. Signs must be posted as drivers near work zones, warning them of active speed monitoring. The speed timing devices will only be active while workers are at a site. Additionally, the state has created a website dedicated to informing drivers when and where the speed timing devices will be in use.
"Ultimately, this program is not about issuing violations. It's about saving lives," said state transportation Secretary Yassmin Gramian.